As a fan of old bookshops it's always fun to find one wth a bit of a twist. This week I came across the most unusual book shop I've ever been in, on a very last minute trip up to London. Word on the Water is a book shop in a canal boat just outside of Paddington Station, and is apparently one of only two floating bookshops in the UK.
While unsurprisingly cramped inside, head ducking is required for taller folks, it was good for a quick browse. It was also open late on a particularly nice evening which will make it stick in my mind for a long time. A copy of 'The Day of the Triffids' was the prize for my twilight wandering.
Hard to imagine a way to top a floating bookshop unless someone opens one in a hot air balloon.
A wise man once said "life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while you could miss it" and life's been moving pretty fast lately, with a few "did that just happen" Bueller-style moments thrown in as well.
I recently started an exciting new gig, as a digital jack-of-all-trades for the Exeter-based 3D chocolate printing startup Choc Edge. A bit of content creation, a bit of website design, a bit of marketing, a bit of everything on the outskirts of writing for the web.
The day I started Choc Edge got a request to appear on the BBC's The One Show, with 24 hours notice following confirmation. So my first official job ended up being to design outlines of Torvill and Dean to be printed in chocolate and then shown to them on the show.
Bolero bites, Torvill and Dean with choc face portraits
Despite having such little time to prepare everything went like clockwork and T & D's unrehearsed reactions were positive (allowing me to wipe Niagra Falls off of my brow). Ultimately we ended up with a blink and you'll miss it 30 second slot on the show, but it was a memorable experience and interesting if underwhelming to see inside the BBC's new building.
Chilling on the One Show couch with my Choc Edge Comrades
On top of all that I recently moved to new digs, to work more closely with Choc Edge, so with work and moving preparations I haven't had much time to think, blog or miss anything. It's been fun though and hopefully there'll be more surreal moments like sitting on the One Show couch on Valentine's Day (albeit after the cameras stopped rolling).
The Mystery Book isn’t really a mystery. Published in 1934 by Odhams Press Ltd it’s a hefty collection of mystery stories broken up into categories of Stories of Mystery and Adventure, Stories of Crime and Detection and Stories of the Supernatural. It’s also available used on Amazon for 0.01p.
In addition to a great selection of stories, from authors well known and not so well known, it’s packed with some really eye-catching illustrations by Ernest Wallcousins. Below are a few of my favourites which I’ve scanned in for future reference and inspiration.
Some are more striking than others but all have an air of mystery, especially when viewed out of context. I haven’t read the story yet which explains why there’s a glowing monkey surprising a vicar in a church, and to be honest I don’t want to. It’s more fun to guess.
I’ll be keeping an eye out for more of Mr Wallcousins’ work on future old bookshop visits, I discovered these gems while sorting out a forgotten part of my bookshelf.
To see all the images from The Mystery Book check out my Pinterest board of Pictures from Old Books.
Tis the season to watch corny movies about miracles and misers and last night I watched my first festive movie of the year, Laurel and Hardy's March of the Wooden Soldiers (aka Babes in Toyland). It's typical Stan and Ollie stuff but set in the magical world of Toyland, and they're called Stannie Dum and Ollie Dee.
Stannie and Ollie are toymakers who mess up an order for Santa, making 100 six-foot soldiers instead of 600 one-foot soldiers, and get fired. This is the catalyst for a series of inevitably comic misadventures as they try to save the widow Mother Peep's house (which they also live in), and her daughter Bo, from the evil Silas Barnaby who owns the mortgage.
Stannie Dum and Silas Barnaby tie the knot
The film features every nursery rhyme character you could think of, a few musical numbers (it was based on an operetta) and a same-sex marriage, though surprisingly not between Ollie and Stan. There's also some interesting old school special effects, one of the things I love about the Laurel and Hardy movies, and a very scary mouse that looks like a Lynchian Mickey (which was apparently a monkey in a costume).
There are plenty of good laughs in the movie and it would definitely make a fine addition to any collection of Christmas favourites, even if it's not as good as some of Stan and Ollie's other features.
Rating: A festive 4/5
Mark is a freelance writer specialising in technology, television and social media, but is adept at writing about a range of different subjects and in different styles.
As well as writing Mark has experience of creating other forms of content for the web and print including photographs, videos and illustrations.